Dirty Kanza 200

2018 Dirty Kanza Training Plan

I’ve received a lot of requests for the 2017 DK training plan. And, regrettably, I haven’t replied to the requests that have come in lately. I plan to do so and will do so. Please be patient with me. =)

I plan on updating the plan for 2018 and will send that to everyone once it’s ready.

If you’re anxious to get started training, the best thing you can do right now is to ride your bike. The plan doesn’t start until January, so there’s no rush until then. So, get on the bike, keep the rubber side down, and have fun!

DK Women Over 50 Podium - Lynn Malir

Lynn Malir Rocks DK 2017!!!

This year, well over 100 people requested a copy of the 2017 Dirty Kanza training plan. It’s quite humbling (and slightly stressful) to have so many people interested in the plan. Some of the folks that requested a copy stayed in touch over the spring and even followed up after the finish. The best part of offering the plan is hearing all the stories and Dirty Kanza race reports. And this year, the stories have been amazing!

One story stands out because the rider took a bunch of want-tos and turned it into an age-group podium finish! Lynn Malir contacted me early in February, stating that she would “LOVE” a copy of the plan. As I try to do with everyone, I emailed her a link to the plan along with a few questions, the most important one being her goal for the DK. She wrote back and told me that she would like to finish in under 17 hours. We emailed back and forth a few times, discussing training strategies, how to conquer the nutritional challenge, as well as bike maintenance and a few other DK topics. Then, the emails stopped, which is to be expected when complete strangers strike up a conversation on a singular topic.

Then, at the end of February, Lynn emailed, asking if I would help her create a plan specific to her current fitness and time available for training. She said that she was fully committed to finishing the DK and wanted a training plan that would get her there. She also shared that she had a running background and that she had completed the DK Half Pint and started the DK 200 in 2016 but DNF’d due to stomach issues. After learning a bit about her training background and weekly schedule, I  pulled together a complete training plan that included mobility work, strength exercises, and bike workouts. It was slightly overwhelming to see it all together as one plan.

In March, Lynn completed a power test. After a month of training, her FTP was improving ahead of schedule. Her fitness was already better than the 17-hour goal. She was riding more in the 15-hour range. Learning this, I Updated the plan to push Lynn a little harder. And, every week, she reported back with positive news, mostly that she loved the workouts. She was getting stronger and rides were getting easier. As the weeks rolled on and the positive training reports continued, I began to wonder how good she could be. She completed another power test midway through April. Her FTP was up almost 10% since March. It was up so much I made a note next to her FTP number: “age-group podium finisher?” She was doing the work and reaping huge rewards.

There were a few setbacks along the way–a nasty spill during a training ride, travel plans that interrupted a full training week; the typical stuff that almost every athlete encounters during the training season. Then, 2 weeks before the DK, Lynn emailed that she was tired. She was really tired, so much so that she couldn’t complete the scheduled workouts. Did she peak too soon!? We made considerable adjustments to her training so she could focus on recovery. Through all the turmoil, Lynn never really complained. She was concerned, but she listened to her body and made the necessary adjustments. The night before the DK, she emailed me, “I am relaxed and ready to have some fun.”

Malir on the DK Course

Lynn on the Dirty Kanza course.

The next day, I watched my phone as updates rolled in. She arrived at the first checkpoint in under 3 hours. That’s a great time, but I was slightly worried that she was going too hard. Then, the CP2 update arrived before 1 PM. She was maintaining the same average pace. “Wow! She’s gonna do this.” Then nothing. No update for CP3 came in. I checked the weather radar and saw showers moving northward on the course. Maybe that was it. She was behind the rain and slogging through the mud. 5 PM…6 PM…7 PM still no update. I convinced myself that she experienced a technical issue. Then, almost on queue, my phone buzzed. “Lynn Malir crossed the finish at 19:30.” SHE DID IT! And HOLY 13:30-total-time COW. Lynn not only finished, she rode her way to 2nd in her age group and 16th overall!

I’m waiting to read Lynn’s race report. I’m also curious to hear what’s next. Lynn has crazy-good fitness, so she’ll hopefully find another event to race in the next few weeks. Or, maybe she’ll relax a bit and enjoy her amazing accomplishment.

Congratulations, Lynn! 2nd Place Women 50+ Dirty Kanza 2017

DK Women Over 50 Podium - Lynn Malir

Congratulations, Lynn! DK Women Over 50 Podium

2017 Dirty Kanza Training Plan

In 2015, I offered my personal DK training plan free to anyone that wanted a copy. After sharing a copy with 100’s of folks over the past 2 years, I thought I would update the plan for 2017 and offer it again. So, if you’re looking for a quality training plan that will help you achieve your goals in Emporia, leave a comment and I’ll get a copy to you.

Here’s what a rider that followed the plan last year had to say about the plan:

Training with the plan increased my FTP by about 10% and I’m climbing better than I ever have. The plan was tough, but it helped out very much getting prepared for the 2016 DK200 where about half the field DNF. I made it in to the faster half of my age group (60+ Male). This was my 4th gravel ride ever and my first ultra distance ride. The training along with good mental prep, bike prep and nutrition plan all came together nicely for me. It wasn’t until the last hour really that I noticed my legs getting a bit tired (guess I should have ridden harder!). – Steve

As Steve said, the plan is tough. It is demanding and it will push you.  The results are worth it! The Dirty Kanza is waiting…

And, there’s no catch. I won’t email you or market anything to you. I created this plan for myself (I used it 2 times) but was taken off the bike by an injury suffered while playing baseball. Rather than just let the plan waste away, I thought I would help out as many people as I can so they can show up in Emporia and crush their goal.



2015 Dirty Kanza Training Plan

Registration for the Dirty Kanza 200 closed today. Now, it’s time to get busy! The good news is you have plenty of time to build base and get ready for the grueling event. If you’re like me, you are probably asking Uncle Google for training advice or even a training plan.

You’re in luck!

I have 3 different training plans that I’m happy to share for free (a reference if you share the plans would be nice, but there are no expectations. It would also be great to hear how you did and if the plan helped you. Otherwise, I’m just looking to help you have a great DK experience.) The plans range from my personal plan that I designed to help me finish the DK200 in 12 to 13 hours, down to a version for a buddy who wanted to ride the 100-mile DK Half Pint at a comfortable pace. These will not be customized to your individual needs, but they will provide a great starting point!

Drop me a line or leave a comment below if you’re interested and I’ll share a copy with you. They are Google Spreadsheets so sharing is a snap. Or, I can email a copy if you prefer.

Happy training and good luck!

The Dirty Kanza 200: Focus

While the Dirty Kanza is still over 6 months away, it seems that everyone is already preoccupied with the event. Conversations about the race have come up on every group ride for the past two weeks. Those conversations continually include the same two questions: “is it really that difficult” and “do you think I could do it?”

The answer to both of those questions is a resounding YES! The Dirty Kanza isn’t just hard. It’s f-ing hard! It is the single hardest bike ride you will ever attempt. But, any person that really wants to finish can finish. The crucial factors are desire, training, and riding within your abilities.

http://xxcmag.com/Having recurring conversations on this topic have forced me to find words to describe the race. In the 3 race reports I’ve written, I always end up saying that words can’t describe the Dirty Kanza. That’s still true today. I still don’t have words to effectively describe the experience of grinding across the Kansas Flint Hills. But, in searching for ways to describe it, I came up with a way of explaining what to expect throughout the day.

The Dirty Kanza is typically broken into 4 sections, with checkpoints around miles 60, 100, 160, and then the finish. It dawned on me this weekend that CP1 is the easiest (shouldn’t be any surprise), and CP2 is the most difficult.

Start to CP1: Reaching CP1 is relatively easy—any trained bike rider can pedal 60 miles. But, how you get there determines how the rest of the day will go. Go too hard here and the day inevitably ends early.

CP1 to CP2: this section, for me any way, is the real test of the day. With the first 60 miles completed, reaching the mid-way point with a clear head and a working bike is the real challenge. It’s not that the section is any more difficult than the others, but rather the mental aspect of what’s ahead. The negative questions (“can I do this”) always seem to come during these miles. This past year, I rolled into the CP2 full of energy and ready for the rest of the day. The previous two years were a completely different story, though. Both times, I reached the second checkpoint concerned and questioning the rest of the day…and in both of those attempts, I ended up dropping out.

CP2 to CP3: I consider these the lonely miles. Be ready for miles on your own. Bring lots of music. Stop and take a few pictures.  Everyone is forced to ride his or her own pace after the first 100 miles. As a result, even those who planned to ride together seem to end up parting ways during this section.

CP3 to Finish: I may not be fully qualified to write about this section considering I’ve ridden it only 1 time. Then, I was fully energized and riding faster than I rode all day. I’d like to say that is what can be expected, but I’m more realistic than that. I had a great ride during the last section because I rode well under my threshold all day. But, there’s a big lesson in that! Stay focused throughout the day and the end comes easy.

The key ingredient for a successful DK200 is focus. You have to get your mind into the challenge of the day and you have to keep the negative thoughts away. A solid training plan, specific nutrition, and sharp appreciation of what’s ahead will help get you there. And, like I’ve told everyone that’s asked, if you’re thinking about trying the Dirty Kanza, you absolutely should! Sign up, train hard, and go for it!

2012 Dirty Kanza 200 by the Numbers

I finally entered data from the Dirty Kanza into my training log and thought I’d share some of the numbers.

Dirty Kanza Stats

  • Racers Entered: 420 – New Record
  • Finishers: 267
  • Finish Rate: 64% – New Record
  • Official Distance: 202.2
  • Winning Time: 11:56:01 – New Record
  • Winner: Dan Hughes, Sunflower Outdoor Sports, Lawrence, KS

My Numbers

  • Total Miles: 207.3 (rode from the hotel)
  • Total Time: 15:29:00
  • Bike Time: 13:18:20
  • Overall Place: 97th
  • Veterans Men Place: 26th out of 154

Geek-out Numbers

  • Calories burned: 15,865 kcal
  • Feet climbed: 7,671
  • TSS: 772
  • IF: 0.65
  • Pedal strokes: 75,000

Food Consumed

  • 8 Homemade Banana-berry Energy Bars
  • 2 Bags Emerald Berry-nut Blend
  • 3 Honey Stinger Waffles
  • 8 Hammer Gels
  • 2 Pickles
  • 1 Jar Pickle Juice
  • 192 oz Water
  • 72 oz Cytomax
  • 1 20 oz Coca-Cola (thanks Ben!)
  • 6″ Turkey Sandwich from Planet Sub
  • and a Bag of Chips

2012 Dirty Kanza 200: Racing the Kansas Sun

I rolled into the 3rd check point in Council Grove (mile 164) with a chest full of confidence. “This year, it’s mine!” I knew without a doubt that I would finish the 200-mile loop of gravel and low-maintenance roads through the Kansas Flint Hills. I grabbed the map for stage 4 and then found Traci and the boys sitting in the shade of a huge oak tree. I was more than ready to join them after spending the past 4 hours pedaling in the blazing sun.

The stretch from Florence to Council Grove was demanding. Not only was it the longest section of the course, it also came during the hottest hours of the day. And, while it was cooler this year than in years past, there was no relief from the sun. At some point, I spotted the shade of rare roadside tree and without thinking I pulled over, stopped and had that conversation with myself: “can I keep going?” This time, though, it wasn’t the same banter as the two previous years. I felt fine…even great. The shade just seemed the right place at that moment. I took a minute to cool down and then was back in the saddle and pedaling to Council Grove.

Council Grove needed to be a quick stop because I lost serious time fixing my bike at check points one and two. I wanted to eat a little real food, fill the bottles and strap on the lights. But, when I stepped off the bike, my feet reminded me just how demanding and intense this race really was. Searing pain shot through both feet, all of my toes were numb, and both arches felt like rubber bands that had been stretched too tight for too long. Walking was more painful than the grind up Texaco Hill–not good considering foot pain ended my ride last year.

I quickly removed my shoes and sunk into a camp chair. I propped up my feet and felt an immediate rush of relief as the blood flowed back into my legs. As I sat there eating with my feet resting high above my head, I realized this stop was going to take a lot longer than planned. Sitting there also gave me time to understand what was happening. I was riding the DK200 with relative ease. That, of course, lead to thoughts that I should be pushing harder.

Almost if on cue, Traci asked, “so what do you think about while you’re out there?” I paused before answering while I considering what I was about to say, “being out there.” It never really dawned on me until then but my thoughts all day were completely focused on the Dirty Kanza. Of course Dirty Kanza means so many things: just finishing; am I going to hard, too easy; the unbelievably barren landscape; eat!; all the clicks and pops coming from the bike–is something broken; drink!; old stone barns slowly crumbling back to earth; the absolute seclusion of the rolling terrain. I know my answer didn’t mean much to her, but I didn’t know how to explain what happens on the roads between each check point.

After sitting for a little more than an hour, I quickly stood up and stated that it was time to go. Zach helped me strap on the lights and I was off. I rolled slowly through town while I considered my options: take it easy and enjoy the ride or burn off some excess energy. I chose the latter and soon found myself cruising along at the fastest speeds of the day. Doing the math occupied my thoughts: 40 miles, less than 2 hours until sundown, gravel and rolling terrain…my original goal was to finish in under 13 hours. When it was obvious that wasn’t possible, I set my focus on beating the sun; I wanted to see downtown Emporia in the light of day. But, the hour-long break put me pretty far behind schedule. So I sped up. I had no worries about blowing up, burning matches, or not finishing. I wanted to see blue sky at the finish line. I rushed past a rider and his cheer made me smile. “Get it!” was all I heard.

Small groups of bystanders cheered as I rolled through Americus. (How cool is it that people in the area spend all day encouraging riders to push on! There’s a reason the Dirty Kanza is so popular.) The sun was just on the horizon as the small town’s road abruptly turned from pavement to gravel. With a little more than 10 miles to go, I accepted the fact that the sun had won. But, I was going to finish, which was my real goal this year.

I turned on the front light as I rolled on to Highway 99. A quick look over my right shoulder revealed a thin blue line on the horizon. That close. The competitor in me was soon overwhelmed by the excitement of the finish line. A rush of enthusiasm smacked me in the face as the spotters on the ESU campus called out my number: “0-3-2.” Hearing him rattle off the numbers one at a time sent chills through me. I popped a wheelie as I bounced off the curb. The noise of the crowd washed over me as I pedaled faster and faster down Commerce Street.

I rolled under the giant banner marking the finish line with both hands in the air. Three hours had passed since the winners crossed the line, but I didn’t care. I had won my own race today. Finding Traci, Caleb and Zach waiting there for me pretty much sealed the deal. The challenge of the Flint Hills was behind me. And, just like they–all the previous finishers say, nothing compares to the feeling of being there, at the finish line, knowing that on this day, I beat the Flint Hills of Kansas.

Waiting to start

Waiting at the Start. Image by www.star-cards.net.

DK200: Rolling into Check Point 1

Rolling Into Check Point 1 with a Rider from Colorado. Image by www.star-cards.net